Aether Continuum by Zaphren
Summary: Two mysterious beings that claim to be Nephalem send Harry's soul back in time to fix the mistakes of the powerful and save his world from more than just Voldemort. This is a change in the Time Travel trope where Harry originally never went to Hogwarts, where events spiraled out of control and Voldemort had risen with the Philosophers Stone and Diary Riddle forced another side to the conflict.
Categories: Alternate Universe
Aether Continuum by Zaphren
Chapter 1: Prologue: ShadowAuthor's Notes:
Machu Picchu was normally a busy tourist attraction during this time of year. People all over the world would come to visit the wondrous ancient village built up in the mountains of present day Peru. However, this year was an oddity, as muggles seemed to have forgotten the tourist site existed. Many in the area never paid much attention to this as a war not seen since the fated days of the Second World War had plunged the world into chaos.
This war, however, was even more horrific, as it brought to the muggles’ attention that there was another world living right on top of them. A world of magic and many things they could not see or comprehend was revealed two years before the beginning of the new millennia, as two self appointed “Dark Lords” began separate invasions of Europe from the Isle of Britain. Within three years most of the Eastern Hemisphere was taken over as the two forces united when the leader of one group disappeared. Now under the command of one Lord Voldemort, the west was beginning to fall.
Walking around the edge of the village, was a young man nearing his twenty-fourth year. His face had a few scars on his right cheek and along his jawline. A dark mop of untidy hair, that covered another scar shaped of lightning upon his forehead, reached to his developed shoulders. The black robes he wore were fading towards grey, and his eyes were haunted, no longer the vibrant green of his youth. He would pause every few minutes, raising a wand in intricate patterns. After a minute, he would nod in satisfaction and continue along the perimeter of the abandoned city, except it was not abandoned any longer.
Refugee wizards and witches of many nationalities filled the stone buildings in a hopeless attempt at normal life. Children were sparse as many had been lost, either taken or killed by the forces of the Dark Wizards over the years. Many people had the same haunted look on their faces as the young man walking the perimeter, their robes were just as shabby as his. Many of the older ones would watch the walking wizard as he passed by with only a small glimmer of hope in their eyes. He was the first to give them any protection for more than a few months.
After a few more stops, the young man turned towards the center of the compound. Nodding to a few, he moved quickly, yet a few people would reach out to touch him as he passed. He let them, as it was more trouble than it was worth to try and stop them even if it bothered him to have so much attention. Some would could be heard whispering his name, ‘Harry Potter’ with a touch of reverence.
The young man would wince slightly whenever he heard this, but he continued on his way. He didn’t have a plan to help these people escape the dark wizard that had destroyed most of their world. No hope of surviving the next month, as he was waiting for another man that had been missing for nearly eight months.
As he neared the structure in the middle, a tall, gangly redhead was approaching him from the other end the darker haired man came from. Meeting at the doorway, the two men shuffled inside to a small dark room. With a flick of his wrist, some candles on a table in the corner to the right of the entrance lit up, bringing the room into a dim light. In a half circle around the table were three high backed wooden chairs, the one on the middle was coated in a layer of dust. Across the room were two worn sleeping bags, dust coated the area around each of them.
The two men sat onto the dust free chairs, Harry looked over at his companion. Even in the dim light he could see the freckles that covered the other man’s face. His robes were even shabbier than Harry’s and his brown eyes just as haunted. They sat there in silence as the sun set. The candles burned down to the base before the redhead broke the silence with a shaky voice.
“Do you think Dumbledore will come back?” He turned to look at Harry, his emotionless eyes boring into the shorter man. The silence returned between them as the question continued to remain unanswered. One of the candles flickered and then extinguished, the redhead turned away and dropped his head onto the table. Another few moments passed before Harry silently raised his hand and placed it onto the other’s shoulder.
“He’ll come back, Ron.” Harry’s voice was monotone, just as emotionless as the other wizards eyes. “You’ve seen what Shadow can do, Albus is safe with him.”
Again they fell into silence, only this time with one trying his best to comfort the other. Harry’s thoughts moved back to his past, to a time that felt almost like another lifetime. When he was unaware of magic, when his uncle had beaten him to near death, forcing Dumbledore to take him to America. Hiding in the state of California with Remus, Sirius, Hagrid and Albus raising him was probably the best adolescent upbringing anyone could ask for. Then the war against Voldemort and Riddle got out of hand, causing his life to uproot and return to Britain.
There he met Ron Weasley and they began training with Nicolas Flamel and Gellert Grindelwald. The two young aspiring wizards had learned quickly to be able to help with the war. Ron had said he did it to not let someone else’s sister die like his did. For a year they trained, until they were forced head first into the war when Ron’s family home was attacked.
Shortly after, the war in Britain fell through and they were forced to leave. Only a few years before now he killed… Harry shook his head, withdrawing from his thoughts. Those were memories he couldn’t think about, too much had happened. He looked around, noticing that the candle had blown out. Ron was leaning back in his chair asleep, lightly snoring and outside was completely silent. It felt too quiet, there wasn’t any murmuring from the refugee’s or wildlife nearby that usually accompanied the nights. Harry stood up, knocking his chair onto the floor in his haste. The noise woke up the redhead, who instantly rolled off his chair to the ground and had his wand pointing in the direction of the fallen chair.
“What is it?” Ron whispered, his eyes roaming over all of the areas that could be hiding an enemy. Yet his question was unanswered as Harry was already outside and making his way towards the wards surrounding the area. “Oi Harry, wait up!” Ron stumbled to the doorway, making out the other wizards cloak fading into the darkness.
At a full run, Harry whipped out his wand, refugees he passed shied away. As he neared the wards he felt them ripple and a flash of light sprung into the air to his right, just passed the invisible bubble that kept them safe. Ron shortly caught up to him, breathing heavily. Harry just stared at the light as it hovered in the air to form a skull with a snake protruding out of it’s mouth. They had been found, he thought numbly, all of their precautions had been in vain. Albus and Shadow still had not returned, the small hope he carried close to his heart faded into nothing. Raising his wand up to his throat, Harry’s voice boomed out to the compound.
“They are here, anyone with children are to gather at the designated location. Everyone else…” He trailed off, what do you say when you were asking others to die? He always hated having to include others into his fights, Ron being one of the few exceptions… well possibly the only one still alive. Looking over at his friend, Harry saw something in those eyes he hadn’t seen in a very long time. There was a fire in his eyes as he stared at the glowing skull. He then turned and looked and the dark haired wizard, nodded, and started walking towards the wards. Harry then realized he wasn’t just asking them to die, he was asking them to give back all the shit they had received from this cursed war. “Everyone else, give them hell!”
A loud cheer came from all around him, some of the refugees in the buildings nearby were saluting him with their wands. As he began to walk forward, with renewed confidence, movement on the edge of the wards caught his eye. Getting nearer, he noticed a very tall, heavily robed figure holding up a shorter but still tall man. Behind them was yet another freakishly tall man holding his arms out as fire and earth swirled in through the air and into the darkness.
“ALBUS!” Harry shouted as he ran forward. He saw a few colored spells being deflected by more clumps of earth being summoned by the man trailing them. When he reached the boundary of the wards he pulled the two men through. The third man continued his spellcasting until he reached the edge of the barrier, where he flung himself backwards landing then rolling off his back up onto his feet.
Now that the newcomers were next to Harry it was easy to see how much they towered over him. Harry was a humble six feet two inches, but these two were like giants, each over nine feet tall. The one that was completely covered in a cloak and hooded was the taller of the two, he called himself, ‘a shadow of what he once was,’ not at all cliched, Harry thought sarcastically. Meanwhile the other was wiping the dirt off his clothing and armor, yet what made him stand out the most was the fact he had wings that looked like they belonged on the back of a dragon, albeit a small one. The old wizard, was another story. He looked so worn, like he had gone back through his own life again in the space of a few days. In fact, Harry looked closer at a small wound on the older man’s arm, that happened only just before he had left.
“What happened? What took you so long to come back?” Harry asked fervently while helping ‘Shadow’, as he came to call him, carry the aged ex-headmaster of Hogwarts. “You’ve been gone for months!” Shadow continued along in silence, flashes of light from behind them illuminated the area around them. Just as Harry was about to ask again, the man from behind spoke up in a deep voice that had a hint of merriment to it.
“Not going to get much from him, he’s having an argument.” Harry glanced back at him. The man's eyes, shaped like a cat’s, glowed slightly in the darkness. “I’m Lars, usually travel with him but he wanted me to stay back and run ‘reconnaissance’ before.” He shrugged, then looked back at where the fighting was happening. “Also usual for us to appear at just the right time, shame we can’t do anything about it. Lets wait for us to get him to a place he can rest before we get into what we’ve been up to.” Harry grunted, what the hell was he talking about? Taking a quick look at the man helping him with Albus, it didn’t look like he was having an argument. Yet who knows what was going on in that mans head. Harry suspected he wasn’t even human based on the only sighting of what was behind that cloak.
After a few relatively silent minutes between the three they reached the building Harry had left earlier. Shadow waved a hand and the months worth of dust cleared from the room in a sudden surge of wind, and another wave caused the candle to light, brighter than it should have been. Setting Albus down on the now clean chair, Harry turned to the two now crouching giants, agitated by the fact of a battle happening and here he was doing nothing to help. Yet he needed answers, like why Albus was in such a state. Breathing deeply to calm the rage that had been building in him since their arrival, he began to pace.
“Answers, now!” he asked curtly. So much for trying to calm himself. Lars looked quickly at Shadow, as if waiting for him to answer, shrugged and then sat on the chair Ron had occupied earlier. In the brightened room Harry could get a better look at the man before him. He had an angular face, his eyebrows were long and the ends were pulled back behind his slightly pointed ears. His hair was short, spiked, and was a vibrant red with streaks of leaf green. The jacket, pants and boots Lars wore looked near to a darkened leather and the bits of plate armor on his arms and legs were a type of metal Harry had never seen before. Strapped to his belt on either side were daggers, although to Harry they would have been swords, made of the same metal as his armor.
“Well, clearly ‘Mister Insane’ over there isnt done yet. So let’s make this quick so you we can all do what we need to do.” Lars paused, covering his face with his hands and letting out a deep sigh.
“You don’t have enough time,” a deep melodious voice came from the corner of the room where Shadow had hidden himself, making the two other men jump. “Lars, revive Dumbledore, I will require all the help he can give me for this ritual. Then you two need to go down and buy us as much time as you can, an hour or two if possible.” He walked out of the corner and stood next to Harry, placing his right hand on the shorter man’s shoulder his eyes glowing slightly under his hood. Harry watched him warily, the hand on him was such a black that it seemed to pull the light in from around it. The tips of the fingers were pointed, nearly digging into his flesh.
“You finished arguin’ with the high’n mighty?” Lars casually asked while his large hands hovered over the unconscious man in the chair. “Thought they never gave up trying to get things done their way.” This was said in a disgruntled whisper.
“Who are you talking about?” Harry asked, shifting slightly and wondering if the bigger man was going to do anything he needed to watch for. Ever since he met the hooded man, he had never felt comfortable around him, and to have him stand next to him was just unnerving.
Shadow ignored the question. “They asked for me to make changes, then argue anytime I even attempt to do so.” He lightly squeezed the young wizard’s shoulder. “You have much to do, and are the only one who can. One day you will understand, but we do not have time to explain now.” With that he moved away to the wall opposite the entrance to the room and began to move his blackened hand across it in intricate patterns. “Lars is he almost awake?”
“Just about. We really shouldn’t have taken him with us, humans of this age are not acclimatized to the atmosphere and gravity of…” He trailed off as he saw Harry was still in the room. “Right, well you’ll probably go there yourself one day. We had to go to our homeworld, weird place really, but everything originates from it.” The light-hearted giant focused on Albus again. “Just about… AHA there! See Shadow, told you I could fix ‘im.”
The old man woke with a start, eyes moving about the room to gather in his surroundings. They widened when they fell upon Harry and he shakily stood.
“No Lars, you did not. Albus, your reunion is going to have to wait. Voldemort’s forces surround us and I’m already interfering more than I should. Any more and my own enemies will have reason to destroy everything.” The three, illuminated by the bright candle looked over at the darkened wall the cloaked man was working on, which now was mostly covered in red glowing runes.
Lars looked at Shadow in mock betrayal, holding one hand over his chest as he grabbed Harry by the arm with the other and led him outside. Once out of the closed in building, the sounds of fighting could be heard more easily. Flashes of light were still shooting into the air from within where the wards once stood. Without a word they quickly made their way to the chaos.
After a few moments of jogging they reached the edges of the fighting, buildings were either missing walls or on fire. Some bodies lay on the ground between people intermingled, fighting each other with spellfire. Lars rose his hands up, trailed by a large mass of earth. The shorter man had already begun to move forward, conjuring a thin single edged sword into his left hand while flicking the wand in his right, a red light already streaking towards a masked and robed man leering over his fallen opponent. A moment after the spell struck, the earth, now shaped into multiple spears, being controlled by the giant flew through the air, piercing a few of the other black robed men and clearing a path to where the main fighting was taking place.
Ignoring the call from the giant behind him, Harry rushed forward, needing to find Ron to let him know about their mentor’s return. The hope that he had lost filled him again to near bursting. So consumed in this he nearly missed the spell that was heading straight for him. Rolling to the ground, he followed through and heaved his sword into the alleyway. A strangled cry let him know he hit his target, he flicked his wand and the sword reappeared into his hand. Standing back up, Harry leaned against the wall. He took in the chaotic sounds from around him. Movement from the direction he came from caught his attention, holding his wand at the newcomer. Lars stood there, one eyebrow raised and his arms folded in front of him.
“I’m gonna guess that whoever taught you has absolutely no idea on working with a partner.” For the first time since Harry had met him, the giants lacked the mocking tone usually present in his voice. “So let me be clear here, you will do exactly as I say. No arguing.” He pierced him with look Harry had seen once before, when he had upset Albus enough for the older man to yell at him. Only this was worse because of his unique eyes, they made him feel as if he was being shredded to pieces. At Harry’s nod, Lars’ face regained it usual joviality and he rapped the young man once lightly on the head. “Good, I’d rather not give Shadow another excuse to berate me. If you thought the look I gave you was bad, just wait till you see his” He shuddered, before motioning for Harry to follow him into the main part of the chaos.
Nearly an hour had passed and there still had been no sign of Ron. The few refugees he’d questioned during sporadic lulls in the battle had not seen him, and Harry was beginning to fear his friend had fallen. Lars, however, was proving to be a nightmare to Voldemort’s forces. Between his strange wandless magic that controlled the elements and his mastery of fighting in close with his daggers and even his wings, they had no answer. Harry had held his own but he felt completely inadequate when compared to the other man. At the moment they were able to take a breather as the dark forces pulled back, regrouping for another push. The defenders had been pushed back to within a few houses from where Shadow and Albus were working on the ritual.
Lars was staring blankly at a ceiling, clearly deep in thought. The man didn’t even seem to have broken a sweat during the fight. Harry sat across from him, back to the wall and watching the taller man. The young wizards shoulders slumped in exhaustion, Lars had led him into the roughest parts of the fighting whenever they were able.
“What kind of magic do you use? I’ve only heard in legends of people being able to control the elements like you can. Is it linked to whatever species you are?” Harry asked, his exhaustion echoed in his hoarse voice. Lars continued to sit there, oblivious to the wizards question. Harry, annoyed at the lack of information from the night cast a silent pinching hex.
“OI, by the four dragon’s testicles, what was that for!?” The giant was leaning forward, rubbing his rear. Harry grinned at the strange curse.
“You didn’t answer my question, or really any of them since you arrived.” His smile slipped off his face, and repeated his questions.
Lars eyed the young man, “The elemental magic that Shadow and I use is its most base form. Completely different than what you use, which is a mixture of Order and Chaos that this world shaped to work for it.” He scratched his chin, cocking his head so his ear faced the window next to him. “As for your second question, yes, in a way it is because of the race I am, a Nephalem. Nothing like what those muggles believe, half angel half demon. Instead we are a mixture of human and/or elf with dragon, hence our size and wings.” The wings on the back of Lars unfolded slightly. “Look kid, this subject would take a few years to cover. Something I don’t think your enemies will let us do.”
Harry’s eyebrows furrowed at the way Lars described ‘his’ enemies. Just as he was about to ask, Lars shifted to look back at the building the ritual was taking place. “It’s ready. Come, we have to get you attu-” A large cry from the other direction drowned out the giants sentence. Harry was suddenly picked up and placed onto his feet, Lars pushing him towards the building their companions were in. “Let’s go!” The other man’s voice was barely discernable over the shouting from the renewed attack. As they rushed across the small alleyway, spellfire flew at them from both directions. Lars let out a feral growl heard over all the noise. The air around them completely whipped into near hurricane levels, the sounds of chaos paled in comparison. Cracks formed into all of the buildings around them as the spells struck the winds and were deflected. The young wizard paid no attention to this as he ducked into the ritual building.
Inside, the old wizard was breathing heavily, perspiration flowing down his face and his robes damp. In the other corner, Shadow knelt on the ground, muttering under his breath. The walls, now covered in runes of a deep gold, vibrated from the power coursing throughout the room that Harry was almost unable to stand.
Lars followed into the room shortly after, pushing Harry towards the center. Then he breathed deeply and stretched his arms out. The muttering from Shadow’s corner ceased, and Harry turned to see the cloaked giant was now bending over the table where Albus had stood. It was then he noticed that there was another person in the room, sitting in one of the chairs with a hand held over his abdomen.
“Ron!” As Harry began to move towards his friend, the cloaked figure was by his side, holding him in the center of the room.
“Don’t move.” It was said with no force, barely more than a whisper, yet the wizard was rooted to the spot. “Lars has begun his part. This ritual is already a massive risk, we can’t let you disrupt it.”
Anger filled Harry. They hadn’t even told him what this whole ritual was and they expected him to just take it. “Will you fucking tell me what you’re doing then?” He was shaking, and he could feel some of his own magic losing control because of his anger. He looked at Albus, who was now sitting in the chair, exhaustion had taken over and he had fallen unconscious again.
Ron stood up, he was shaky on his feet and Harry could see blood had soaked through his robes. “Listen Harry, he’s gonna help you fix this. And when you go…” His voice croaked from the pain he was in. “When you do this, make sure I’m a better person.” The redhead then looked at Shadow. “I’ll buy you a bit more time, it’s not like this whole world matters anymore.” He smirked in pain, then limped out of the room.
As Harry continued to look at the door his friend had walked out of, as if expecting him to come back, the golden runes brightened and small streams floated out from them towards the wizard in the center. Lars was now muttering to himself, deep in concentration as his hands and fingers made intricate patterns in the air. Harry jumped when Shadows deep melodic voice sounded in his ear.
“This is an ancient ritual from before my people existed. Dragons and Demons were in a continuous state of war, one that the latter was losing. The Dragons had learned how to create other species, elves being the major one. So the Demons in a last attempt to win the war created this ritual, to send one of their own back, except they could not get it to work. They only had power over the chaotic energies of the universe. They then set out to do what the Dragons had done, create another species, one that could use the Order energies. Over and over they failed, until an outsider gave them the template their enemies had used. Thus the humans were created.”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows. Humans were demonspawn? Shadow, then continued his tale. “They tried again, to the same results. Order and Chaos cannot intermingle, and the ritual was a disaster. It destroyed many demons and only a few humans escaped. The cost forced them to lose the war and the Demons were banished to the hellish holes of the pre-universe mass that was their home.”
“What are you doing differently if it didn’t work for them?” Shadow had moved back to the edge of the room, the golden lights were now encircling the young wizard. Even as Harry asked the question, he knew the answer.
“The magic of the Dragons, the elements earth, fire, water and wind. They act as a buffer between the two opposing energies. Alone they can do wondrous things, but never before has all three been able to work together until now. Lars is a very unique member of the universe. A descendant of a black dragon, a holder of the four elements; a human and an elf, holders of order magic; and a demon, the most chaotic beings the universe has ever known. He is one of two beings ever created that can use all of it.” Harry was shocked, he never could have imagined that the man he had fought with for the past hour held that much power.
“Still can’t hold a candle to what you do, Shadow.” Lars had straightened up, inspecting his work. Harry, spellbound by the tale, only now realized that he was completely encased in a golden glowing cocoon. “Better tell him what he needs to do before it goes into effect.” He paused, giving a sidelong glance at the cloaked man. “Think this’ll work?” Harry’s eyes widened, Lars wasn’t sure it was good even after all of that. Then he noticed the mischievous glint in the man’s eye.
Shadow sighed, his hood moving in a way that only a man shaking his head would. “Harry, this will send you back in time, to around when Albus took you from your relatives. Not physically at least, but your mind.” The room began to shake erratically. “That will be Voldemort. Now listen closely, Harry. You will need to go to Hogwarts, stop Voldemort from getting the Stone, and then save Ginevra Weasley. She was very closely linked with the rise of Riddle and it must not happen again.” The man’s eyes glowed fiercely from under his hood, he then reached up with his blackened arm and removed his hood.
The man’s face was even more angular than Lars’, with high pronounced cheekbones. His lips were thin, only slightly darker than his tanned face, the color of which did not match his arm, and there was a slight hint of facial hair on the end of his chin. His shoulder length straight hair was pure ebony. It was his cat-like eyes that stood out, even more so than the other Nephalem’s did, for the pupils were a deep ruby red, glowing as if a fire was ever burning within.
“It will take some time for us to find the splinter universe that will be created by this. During that time, stop Voldemort from regaining his body, and figure out how he still lives. Ginevra will be the beginning. You will be the end. Good luck.” He quickly turned, grabbed Lars and they both disappeared into nothingness as the golden glow around Harry began to blind him. Moments later he himself was engulfed into darkness and he remembered no more.
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